This article appeared in the May 18, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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The other PPE to keep in mind as lockdowns lift

Kathy Willens/AP
A New York Police Department School Safety officer hands out face masks at Brooklyn Bridge Park May 17, 2020. As people have tried social emergence – whether within guidelines or while pushing limits – some have called for patience and solidarity.
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

As lockdowns lift, public health officials stress that loosening – a complex process – should come with caution. 

The world will still need an abundance of PPE – not the protective gear that’s been in maddeningly short supply, but the exhibiting of three constructive values. Some have already been displayed. 

Pragmatism: In January, while some leaders floundered, others worked methodically. In India’s Kerala state, K.K. Shailaja, a science teacher turned health minister, convened a response team before her state of 35 million people had any confirmed cases of COVID-19, adopting World Health Organization protocols and keeping the outbreak manageable. 

Practicality: Mongolia’s government was also proactive, advocating social restrictions as the coronavirus rampaged in parts of neighboring China. Measures as simple as hand-washing helped suppress infection rates, reports Global Press Journal, citing national health officials. (The country has also seen a sharp decline in other illnesses attributed to poor hygiene.) 

Empathy: Examples of human kindness have flowed. But understanding should extend further. Persistent guidance can come without judgment, writes Harvard epidemiologist Julia Marcus in The Atlantic, though that can be a test when social behavior gets politicized – in both directions.

“[D]espite our best efforts,” Dr. Marcus writes, “some people will choose to engage in higher-risk activities – and instead of shaming them, we can provide them with tools to reduce any potential harms. ... Meet up outside. Don’t share food or drinks. Wear masks. Keep your hands clean. And stay home if you’re sick.”

A note to readers: We’ve been working on a refresh of the Daily, based on interviews with some of you. Watch for some design and format changes in Wednesday’s issue.

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This article appeared in the May 18, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 05/18 edition
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